St. Joseph Schools hosted a technology boot camp for teachers throughout Arkansas this week.
Technology has continued to be an integral part of students’ lives, which has led to an innovative and powerful movement for many schools in Arkansas.
Not long ago, schools represented a historic forum of education, "students used to be asked to put their phones in a basket in the office as they walked into the school," said Susie Freyaldenhoven, St. Joseph Middle School principal.
Administrators at the school recognize the need to innovate and adapt as technology grows. Technology allows students who don’t seem to be excelling in academics to have a voice. Freyaldenhoven recalls a student in her fourth-grade keyboarding course who, in the middle of the lesson, offered a helping hand to teach the class a shortcut to a popular link.
"He just raised his hand and told me he knew a faster way, and I told him to come to the teaching computer so he could demonstrate it," Freyaldenhoven said.
In response to this innovation, the Arkansas Nonpublic School Accrediting Association (ANSAA) developed the professional development workshop to aid teachers with the integration of many technologies for the classroom.
The workshop boasts a variety of classes that teachers can attend. Spanish and foreign language teachers can attend a course on how to utilize online textbook resources to enrich student experience, and world history can be examined using Google sites. More adventurous technology types taught at the development is an introduction to Google Forms and an interesting technology known as Flubaroo.
"This session will focus on Google Forms and how you can use this tool to generate feedback from students, parents or other colleagues," said Nicole Rappold, development director for St. Joseph. "The forms can also be used for student assessments. Flubaroo can also be used with Google Forms to grade your assessments and provide you and your students immediate feedback."
Other classes shift from the traditional computer and browser-based technologies and into the use of iPads and self-published content such as podcasts. Teachers will learn how to implement iPad applications and the record function to not only develop powerful presentations, but also have audio lessons that students can refer to at home or on the go to keep the information fresh and engaging.
The development not only benefits teachers, but also directly benefits students by developing an integrative way to bring in the outside world into the classroom where real-world application of lessons can be understood.
With the integration of technology into the classroom, including cell phones, some parents and teachers have wondered if the productivity of learning will be hindered. Freyaldenhoven said that "we have rules to regulate cell phone use. Depending on the teacher, they will have the students turn off their phones and have them facedown on their desks until it is time to use them for an instructional purpose."
The technology model is expected to continue at St. Joseph Schools as well as throughout the state of nonpublic schools leading possibly to entirely paperless campuses.
"E-books and the use of iPad applications are more cost effective for students and parents," said Freyaldenhoven.
More than 80 teachers registered for the event.